Plan to launch Knysna Theatre

The Knysna Theatre being renovated by a former Durban trio. Fundraising is underway to restore the theatre.

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BY BILLY SUTER

DO YOU want to do your bit to promote the performing arts and also help three talented, hard-working, former Durban theatre personalities launch a theatre in Knysna?

If so, seasoned media director William Charlton-Perkins, playwright-actor and artistic director Clinton Marius and administrative director Riaan Timson will be glad to hear from you.

The trio recently relocated from Durban to Knysna and now have taken on an iconic, old, landmark building in Main Road in Melville Centre. Until fairly recently it had housed a nightclub and, before that, was a theatre.

The plan is to turn the building into the versatile Knysna Theatre, with help from crowd fundraising online. Every little bit of cash donated will help and the fundraising has now begun – for all the details on how to help make this dream come true visit https://www.thundafund.com/project/knysnatheatre

The tenacious trio require cash to put seating back into the venue, have a welcome sign created for the front of the venue, install stage lighting and a few tables in the for the foyer coffee shop, among other things.

And already they have got the ball rolling with their first production.

The current view of the stage and auditorium at the Knysna Theatre.

Studio 42 drama group’s Sedgefield Players will christen the Knysna Theatre with 7.30pm performances on September 5 and 6 of the popular The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It is a riotous comedy directed by Melanie Burmeister and starring Nita Allsopp, Gareth Pretorius and Bomber Webb.

The play holds the world record for shortest performance of Hamlet – at less than 30 seconds – as well as the fastest performance of Hamlet backwards, at 42 seconds. All 37 of Shakespeare’s plays are contained in one delicious, nudge-wink romp.

The production has a two-hour running time, with a 10-minute interval. Tickets cost R150, including a glass of wine. Phone 082 696 3507 or 082 335 6088 to book or for more details.

The Knysna Theatre aims to be a home for the local performing arts, to nurture emerging talent, and be a regular stop for South Africa’s favourite entertainers, says Charlton-Perkins.

“While the venue, with its beautiful yellowwood interiors, upper and lower floors, and a charming stage was once a theatre, it is now in need of some restorative magic. Please make a pledge towards this initiative, if you would like to support theatre in the region.”

Charlton-Perkins, Marius and Timson are the team behind South African publicity and production company, Copy Dog, which has chalked up more some 35 years of experience in the arts and entertainment industry.

“As publicists, we have helped further the careers of dozens of production houses, as well as local and visiting international artists – both established and emerging. Our clients have included, among others: The Playhouse Company, KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Aaron McIlroy, Lisa Bobbert, Andre the Hilarious Hypnotist, Stuart Taylor, Dalin Oliver, Festival in the Hills, The British Cultural and Heritage Association, Friends of Music, and countless more.”

Playwright Clinton Marius is among the trio opening the Knysna Theatre.

Copy Dog’s production wing has staged numerous, multi-award-winning shows, including the Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning, B!*ch Stole My Doek, Lady Sings the Blues, The Fantastical Flea Circus, Sweetie Darling and Calf With No Name – which is currently published as a Platinum Reader for Grade 8 English First Additional Language.

“Our company policy is to strive for a non-racist, non-sexist arts industry, to grow this industry, and to offer support – particularly for emerging artists, and those who have been historically excluded,” says Charlton-Perkins.

Preliminary online discussions with local residents had shown much excitement and anticipation at the possibility of a theatre opening again in Knysna, with a strong groundswell of support developing, he adds.

“Similarly, our cconnections in the entertainment industry have expressed a keen interest in adding a local venue to their tour schedules.

“We identified the suitable venue in the main road running through Knysna. The historic landmark is a beautiful and grand structure that once served as a theatre, complete with dressing-rooms, green room, kitchen, storage space and an office.”

The owner of the building shares the trio’s vision of establishing a theatre, and has very generously offered the place with a long-term lease and at a reduced rate for the first six months, while the team gets established.

However, the reality is that the interior is in need of certain to meet the requirements of a fully operational theatre – hence the online fundraising project.

“We need to raise R250 000 to buy lights, sound equipment, curtaining, 180 chairs and soundproofing for external windows. The space is also in need of some general maintenance, including painting and fixing of existing fittings.

“Our tipping point is R 50 000, which will allow us to buy very basic lighting, and some chairs.

“If we raise more than what is needed for the installation of the theatre space, we will be able to acquire some tables and chairs for the front-of-house cafe, which will help keep the lights on during quieter periods. With the Knysna Theatre Cafe, we would like to create a space where creatives gather –to network, collaborate and exhibit work on either the Cafe’s Side Stage or the Main Stage.

 


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